Oops, He Did It Again: John Edwards Continues His Epic Fall From Grace

Disgraced former senator and almost-Vice President John Edwards can’t seem to find his way out of the bottomless hole that is his current baby mama drama. And what a drama it is: Over the weekend, news of recent developments in the Edwards scandal began to circulate, all of which were damning of his assertion that he is not the father of mistress Rielle Hunter’s 19-month-old baby girl, Francis.

Long story short, Andrew Young, a former aide to Edwards, revealed a number of sordid details pertaining to the Edwards-Hunter affair in a book proposal, which was examined by the New York Times. Among the claims:

• Edwards is in fact the child’s father and, what’s more, has known it all along;
• Edwards promised Hunter that he would marry her in a rooftop NYC ceremony once his cancer-stricken wife, Elizabeth Edwards, passed away; and,
• The Dave Matthews Band would be performing at said ceremony.

In the wake of these revelations, news reports are now suggesting that Edwards is considering an abrupt reversal of his public posture and may very well claim paternity. This development in Edwards’ epic fall from grace does little to defend any shred of integrity he still clung to, and it also raises a huge question (assuming Young’s claims are true): Why vehemently deny something that is true, only to change your position down the road?

It’s a “crime” committed by so many types of people, from politicians and business executives to entertainers, so it’s all the more surprising that no one seems to learn from the mistakes of those who’ve gone before them. Plus, in a situation like Edwards’, there are genetic tests to prove or disprove the validity of one’s claims. (There is also something called “family resemblance,” which isn’t helping Edwards’ case either—photographs have shown baby Francis to be the spitting image of her maybe-father.)

Edwards’ strategy (or lack thereof) for handing the situation makes me wonder why apologies and admissions of guilt are too little, too late, in too many instances. Wouldn’t it be better to own up to your wrongdoings, pay the price and maybe—just maybe—bounce back? Not to condone Eliot Spitzer’s own version of infidelity but, when compared to Edwards’, at least Spitzer knew when to say when—that is, when to realize the evidence against him outweighed any lie he could come up with.

Besides not doing something so egregiously wrong in the first place, I’m not sure what the best course of action is for Edwards now (I certainly wouldn’t want to be his PR person). But I do think the situation underscores the value of uttering two simple words early and often:

I’m sorry.

By Courtney Barnes

  • Jill

    Not sure “I’m Sorry” would cut it in this case.
    The news for him just keeps getting worse!

  • http://www.marilynmessenger.com Marilyn Messenger

    Too bad! Edwards could have helped so many people…why do people get stupid??? Even worse, the media and public just eat this kind of thing up…such a waste!

  • Philvs

    Mr. Edwards is not stupid and he didn’t “get stupid” when he cheated on his wife. He was just thinking with the wrong head. Speaking as a man, even the smartest of men get orders from their crotch that they seemingly cannot ignore.

    Lying, which Mr. Edwards obviously did, is not, in my mind, an occasional thing. It is a lifestyle. It was second nature to Mr. Edwards to lie about his misdeeds.

    In any event, whoever offered him public relations counsel (if he followed their suggestions) should be drummed out of PRSA.

  • LHH

    I certainly agree, Edwards behavior since the situation first came to light left him no out. Had he owned up to everything early on, he actually would have built up some credibility, humility and even some degree of public sympathy as time passed. With what he actually did, and the true nature of his involvement only now becoming known, his actions have just further destroyed and semblance of credibility and integrity he might have had; made him appear an insensitive and arrogant jerk; and killed any chance for the public sympathy factor to come into play. The only sympathy he might receive at this point would be from individuals who have done what he has done and not learned from those who had gone before, either. But then again, Edwards is a lawyer, and that has its own PR challenges by itself.

  • Liza

    Having read many of this sites blog posts over the last several months I find a common theme from the editor and publisher – apologize, be humble and fess up to mistakes. All noble advice, but rather simple. As someone that has served on several high profile state and national political campaigns over the last decade I am always looking for knowledge to do my job, better and more effectively; however PR covers many specialized fields that require an intimate understanding of its needs – not generalize broad strokes of “genius” – sorry this content misses the mark in raising my game at this point in my career.

  • http://www.mouseandpen.com Scott

    John’s mistake was that he tried to cover-up the issue early on. Once the media has backpedaled to do the research and discover the truth from the start, your credibility of course evaporates.

    This story really is a case study for PR 101: Tell the truth, always, and from the start. Now, his credibility will be very hard to rebuild. But, then again, if Michael Vick can try to do it, perhaps he can to.

    I believe Edwards’ core issue is that his personality simply doesn’t appear genuine. It has a Rod Blogojevich quality to it, which will be very hard to recast in the mainstream media.

  • Chris Halvorson

    This is by no means an attempt to defend Edwards, but to shed light on why this continues to happen to what are seemingly the smartest people we know. A psychological malady called disassociation may be at play here. Edwards may actually believe he has not lied along the way. He may be so cut off from some part of himself that he literally “believes” this is happening to someone else. I am not an expert. I was only married to someone just like him (and Clinton and Spitz and Letterman and…the list goes on).

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